The robotic arm component of an industrial robot usually contains six axes of motion, although some models have more or less depending on the application they were designed for. The robotic arm makes up the majority of the system and is often the focal point. The robotic arm houses several other components including wiring, cables, and drives. Typically, the larger the robotic arm, the higher the maximum allowable payload.
The robotic controller is the “brain” of the industrial robot. The controller stores and sends programmed information to the robot arm and accessories. The controller generally sits behind or off to the side of the robot arm. A teach pendant is connected to the controller that allows the user an easy way to manipulate and “teach” the industrial robot.
Robotic drives are also known as motors. The motors are often servo-controlled, which allows for greater control through the use of encoders and position and speed feedback. In simpler terms, these robotic drives give the robot arm motion. Typically, every axis has a drive to move and it to the exact right placement. The precision of these drives helps give industrial robots such precise repeatabilities.
Robotic end effectors come in many shapes and sizes and perform many tasks. When automated, industrial welding, material handling, cutting, painting, and many other industrial applications use unique end effectors. Automated welding uses a welding torch that varies with the type of welding being performed. Tregaskiss is a large supplier of robotic welding torches. Material handling applications often employ grippers to handle parts. The shape, weight, and orientation of the part often play a role in deciding whether to use a bag gripper, suction gripper, magnetic gripper, finger gripper, or other kinds of end effectors. Choosing the right end effector for the task is a crucial step in robotic automation.
Robotic sensors may or may not be present in an industrial robot system. Depending on the accessories, application, and surrounding work environment, robotic sensors may not be needed. When they are needed, they are often found in safety features, such as zone rings and light curtains, as well as an accessory to the robot arm, such as robotic vision or seam tracking.